fix a leak

Water Wednesday – Fix a Leak

By Jeffery Robichaud

watersense

Drip, drip, drip…hear that? It’s the sound of your money escaping through a leaky faucet. This week is Fix a Leak Week. (It’s also National Salt Awareness Week in the UK so be sure to watch your salt intake, too.) I thought I would put together a quick blog entry to cover relevant information about Fix a Leak Week here in Region 7, but our Headquarters office had already turned the tap:

Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, so each year we hunt down the drips during Fix a Leak Week. However, remember that you can race over to your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, fix the leaks, and save valuable water and money all year long. From family fun runs to leak detection contests to WaterSense demonstrations, Fix a Leak Week events are happening from coast to coast and are all geared to teach you how to find and fix household leaks. For more information, visit EPA’s Fix a Leak website and EPA’s WaterSense website. If you have any questions, contact the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) or send an email to watersense@epa.gov.

Last year, I finally got off the dime and took care of some things around my house. I fixed one of our toilets that would occasionally run because of a loose seal between the stopper and the opening, expending what little handyman skills I possess. I also put several aerators (small replacement pieces for faucets that minimize water flow) on sinks that my boys tend to let run longer than they should. Finally, I called my sprinkler company to have them look at what I thought might be a leak. Sure enough, they were able to make a quick fix to one of the pipes. These quick fixes saved me significant money, as I noticed about an 8-10% reduction in my water use from the previous year.

This year, we sprung for a new dishwasher, since our old builder’s model was on its last legs. Besides being an Energy Star product, it uses considerably less water than our 10-year-old model. In April, I’ll be able to compare our bill to last year’s and see how much we saved. Next up is the washer and dryer (although I’m sure my wife and I will want to finish off the rest of the kitchen appliances first). Maybe I’ll save that for next year and can knock some more off my water usage.

So get out there and Fix a Leak. It just makes good (Water)Sense! Check out the Fix a Leak Week 2015 Event Map to find out what’s going on near you!


Fix A Leak app on Facebook
Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division. He has saved considerable water this month by not washing his exceptionally dirty truck.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Fix-a-leak to Keep Pests Out!

By Marcia Anderson

While on an inspection of a school, I walked into a kitchen, flicked on the light switch, and  several cockroaches went scurrying back to their hiding places. We discovered that the cockroaches were flourishing due to water collecting under the refrigerator, a valve leak under the sink, and grease that had collected under the oven.

Did you know that water leaks can cause pest problems in homes, schools, and businesses? Most people are unaware of the association between plumbing problems and pests, but the fact is that the two are intertwined. If you have a leak, it will attract pests.  To get rid of pests, and keep them from coming back, you have to deprive them their basic survival needs: food, water, shelter. Did you know that German cockroaches can survive a couple of weeks without food, but they will die within a few days if they do not have access to moisture?

Where do pests get their water? Take a close look around your home for plumbing leaks in the laundry room, under the kitchen sink, below the dishwasher, and around all your bathroom fixtures. If you notice rust around your drain, fixtures, or valves, that is a clue that moisture is going where it shouldn’t be.  Cockroaches and other pests find drinking water in leaky pipes, dripping faucets, and gaps around pipes.  Fix leaky faucets by replacing worn washers in the kitchen sink and bathroom areas, and ventilate moist areas.  Remember that pests, such as cockroaches, like it damp. A leaky sink trap can create a moist pest paradise under your kitchen cabinets.

Sometimes plumbing leaks are due to old shut-off valves that are located under and behind the sink. Those need to be replaced because if the problem is ignored, what could have been a simple repair could develop into a bug oasis.

In the bathroom, make sure that there is a good seal around the water pipes where they enter the room from the wall. A good caulk seal assures that even the smallest insects can’t enter. Check grout around bathtubs and toilets. A poor seal around a bathtub can allow water into the surrounding floor and walls, and if the wax ring around the bottom of a toilet isn’t sealing properly, you could create a watering hole for critters every time you flush.

Be PestWise! Regular maintenance such as fixing leaks, are key components of a smart, sensible, and sustainable pest management program. Recognizing the value of pest prevention is an important first step. Drip, drip, drip goes the faucet … stopping those drips saves water, helps the environment, and protects you from pests. For more information on controlling pests in your home, school, or business visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/controlling/dosanddonts.htm

About the author: Marcia Anderson is with the Center of Expertise for School Integrated Pest Management in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Management at Montclair State University. Marcia supports the Center’s efforts to promote a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to pest control in the Nation’s schools.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Fix a Leak: Detecting and Fixing Toilet Leaks

About the author: Ed Del Grande is host of “Ed the Plumber” on the DIY Network*, and regularly appears on HGTVPro.com as the plumbing expert. He writes a nationally syndicated column, “Ask the Plumber,” which appears in newspapers across the United States. Del Grande is a native of Rhode Island.

image of author, Ed Del Grande, kneeling next to a toiletHow do you know when a toilet is leaking? Faucets and showerheads will drip, which is a dead giveaway for a leak. But what about toilets?

Have you ever experienced your toilet “running” for a long time after a flush, or had to wiggle the handle to make it stop, or does it ever randomly “run” at night, even when nobody flushed it? A “running toilet” is a leaky toilet.

If you’re toilet is leaking, most likely it’s a bad flapper. If you look inside the tank, you’ll notice a ‘rubber stop’ at the bottom of the tank. This device is no longer creating a water-tight seal, and your toilet is leaking. To confirm, you can drop a couple drops of food coloring in the tank. If you see any food coloring leak into the bowl, your toilet is leaking.

You can purchase replacement parts for your toilet at any hardware store or home improvement center. This should stop the problem. And, these replacement kits are pretty easy to install.

However, if you’re taking the time to make this fix, you should check to see how many gallons your toilet uses with each flush. The federal mandate is 1.6 gpf, but if your house is old, or you haven’t remodeled in quite some time, chances are you have a toilet that uses 3.5 gpf or more. And that’s a waste of water – a waste of 2 gallons of fresh drinking water with every flush. If you have an old toilet, consider replacing it with a new, WaterSense labeled toilet. These new toilets don’t sacrifice design or performance.

To get some great information on new toilets, and what to look for, check out www.epa.gov/watersense/.

* EPA does not endorse any contractor, commercial service, or enterprise.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.